Poetry: Creation’s Inherent Contradiction

The creation of a poem begins from one position and ends at a different one. The origin and ending seem contradictory, yet there has been no break in the unity of the poem’s creation.

Poetry becomes an unforeseen fusion of contradictory elements. A rail of information runs on one side of the poet. On the other, runs emotion that conveys its ideas with the help of figurative language. Of course, a range exists between thought and emotion.

Formal prose, on the idea end of the spectrum, suppresses connotations. A reader of formal prose seeks information. Consequently, the writer uses precise language. He only says what he appears to say. In poetry, the implication is more important than the definition.

When writing a poem, I intentionally uncover and connect underlying associations. Lyric poetry contains some prosaic elements. It often presents a scene that uses rhythmic language and “things” to impose an illusion of experience. In a sense, the lyric poem operates as a tiny essay, with a nucleus of an idea.

So, here’s the fusion. First, the “inspired” idea arrives as a beast, a wolf. As with any wild animal, it is best to leave it alone. The creature will bite. Later, when the beast settles and sleeps, I work what I have been given.

First, I create through feeling, then I become a craftsman, analyzing, testing, correcting. This is what people mean when they say the “practice” of poetry.

I don’t want the beast running wild, but I don’t want to injure or kill it. Too much control is deadly to art. I want the poem to work like jazz in which time and key continually change. The listener must play careful attention or else he or she will lose the music.

Before contemporary poetry, readers derived pleasure from a poem’s regularity. To our ears, many poems, let’s say from the Romantic period, sound rigid. So, what I’m saying about the fusion of craft and inspiration is variable through time. Tastes change. Once, time and key were prominent, now they are not.

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